The former head of The City’s emergency planning, who has consistently come under attack by the Board of Supervisors, was once again in its cross hairs Monday as they recommended to eliminate her latest position at the Office of Emergency Services and Homeland Security.
Annemarie Conroy was appointed in 2004 by Mayor Gavin Newsom as director of OESHS, the city department charged with planning for major catastrophes. During her tenure as the leader of OESHS, she was often criticized for lack of qualifications and this spring, a scathing city audit of the agency revealed significant deficiencies and once again called into question Conroy’s experience and expertise.
Amid the controversy, Newsom appointed Laura Phillips, a former Motorola executive, to run The City’s Department of Emergency Communications and oversee OESHS. Meanwhile, The Board of Supervisors approved legislation in October restructuring the department’s chain of command that clearly positioned Phillips as Conroy’s boss.
Phillips appointed Conroy on Nov. 12 to a $250,000 position as chairwoman of the Super Urban Area Security Initiative committee, a group of representatives from Bay Area cities who will decide how regional homeland security dollars are spent.
On Monday, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee recommended that Conroy’s new position be killed.
Conroy said her position was "a high-level management position that would be attending meetings almost constantly, always engaging in some sort of discussion with federal government, state government high-level people."
Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, however, disagreed. He called the position unnecessary, noting that other Bay Area cities do not have a dedicated position that simply sits on the regional committee.
"It’s usually the head of the department who serves on it. So we’ve basically created a very expensive component to that and that didn’t seem like a good use of funds," Peskin said.
Newsom originally appointed Conroy as head of OESHS in a political position swap that gave him a much-needed ally on the Board of Supervisors early in his term. Newsom moved Conroy from chief of Treasure Island to OESHS, replaced her with then-Supervisor Tony Hall and appointed Sean Elsbernd to Hall’s seat on the board. Hall was later forced to resign from his position after nasty public battles with the Treasure Island Board and Elsbernd was re-elected.
Newsom remains supportive of Conroy.
"It’s unfortunate to see the Board of Supervisors attack someone that by any objective measure has done a good job," mayoral spokesman Peter Ragone said Tuesday.
Peskin, however, denied that the vote had anything to do specifically with Conroy.
The Board of Supervisors will vote today on whether to uphold the committee’s recommendation.